Skip to main content

Language: English / Gàidhlig

Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament

Meeting date: Tuesday, May 30, 2023


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon. The first item of business is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader today is the Rev Markus Dünzkofer, rector, St John’s Episcopal church.

The Rev Markus Dünzkofer (St John’s Episcopal Church)

Presiding Officer, honourable members, visitors and guest, in April 1944, the German authorities martyred Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Already in 1933, Bonhoeffer had called out the cult of the Führer for what it was: blasphemous idolatry that prevented people from giving God the glory only due God’s name, as the psalmist puts it.

Bonhoeffer also set out a vision for the role of the church in relation to the state in times, like his own, when Governments fail their citizens. He wrote:

“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice but we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

This sounds radical, but it very much reflects the witness of biblical prophecy that, for example, made the Prophet Nathan clash with King David and that cost John the Baptist his head when he challenged King Herod.

Yes, the community of faith will and must speak out when the rights of the disenfranchised, and not just

“the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner”

that are mentioned in the Bible, are overlooked. That is the case even though, institutionally, a number of faith communities have had a terrible track record when it comes to justice for those who are different, such as visible, sexual or gender minorities. The wheel of injustice has been set in motion too many times by people claiming to speak for God. Be that as it is, Bonhoeffer was spot on, and still is today.

I want to share Bonhoeffer with you for another reason. Often, in conversations with colleagues, I discover that many of us suffer from impostor syndrome. Maybe that is a hazard common to many occupations, including those in elected office. This might be something for us all to remember when interacting with those whose views differ from ours: they are another person with doubts, regrets, feelings and vulnerabilities, just like we are.

Bonhoeffer talks about this human frailty in one of his poems, which was written in prison, and part of which I would like to share:

“Who am I? They often tell me
I would step from my cell’s confinement
calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
like a squire from his country-house …
Who am I? Am I really all that which others tell of?
Or am I only what I know of myself,
restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage …
powerlessly trembling … weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making … ?
Who am I? This or the other? …
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, thou knowest, O God, I am thine.”